This weekend’s White Friday hopes to be the Middle East’s busiest online shopping event ever with 10 million daily visitors.
The retail promotion by regional e-commerce sites including souq.com copies America’s Black Friday, which is one of the busiest shopping days in the US. It got its light-hearted name because some retailers claim it is the first day of the year they turn a profit.
Falling on the last Friday of this month, it is increasingly becoming the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season across the world with large discounts on offer.
“We are expecting over 10 million visitors a day to our website driven by the 250,000 products we have discounted [for White Friday],” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and chief executive of Souq.com.
The UK’s Amazon site saw a 160 per cent increase in sales last year when it ran its Black Friday promotion, and the rise in online sales forced bricks and mortar operations to match the online offers.
“We are very excited to see unprecedented shopping events like White Friday take place in Mena, where similar initiatives around the world were a big success,” said Wassim Kabbara, head of e-commerce and retail at Google.
“Such initiatives play a big role in encouraging first-time online shoppers with great deals on various products. With the huge smartphone penetration here, it is great to see online players like Souq.com leverage their app and mobile site as the primary source for shoppers, as well as video platforms like YouTube.”
In an attempt to drive credit card transactions, rather than the expensive and time consuming cash-on-delivery system, Souq.com has partnered with MasterCard offering a further 15 per cent discount if its card is used.
The site will also use the event to launch one of the world’s cheapest smartphones, exclusively sold online, the Infinix Zero, which if you use the appropriate card can be bought for less than Dh400, it usually retails for Dh449.
The phone’s affordability is generated from its online business model.
“The margin channel has been cut, the links in the chain have been cut out,” said Jean-Alexis Chatelain, vice president of Infinix.
“Souq.com is expecting to sell 100,000 units per month. Based on what we have seen elsewhere, that number would not be unrealistic. There is no retail margin and no distribution margin.
“Online retailers work on very low margins compared with traditional retailers because they do not have the margins to pay out. This is a special business model that allows us to bring down the cost.”
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